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Session With Payal Arora

Book: The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West

Friday, Jan 8, 2021 from 2-3:30 PM EST

The registration link is here;
Find the e-book here.

Payal Arora, Professor and Chair in Technology, Values, & Global Media Cultures Erasmus University Rotterdam

Brief Bio: Payal Arora is a digital anthropologist and author of several books including the award-winning “The Next Billion Users” with Harvard Press. She is the founder of a digital storytelling organization Catalyst Lab and co-founder of FemLab.Co, an initiative on platforms & the future of work outside the West. She is Professor and Chair in Technology, Values and Global Media Cultures at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her expertise lies in ethical AI, inclusive design, and user experiences among low-income communities worldwide and comes with more than a decade of fieldwork in such contexts. Forbes named her the “next billion champion” and the right kind of person to reform tech. Several international media outlets have covered her work including the BBC, The Economist, Quartz, Tech Crunch, The Boston Globe, F.A.Z, The Nation and CBC. She has consulted on tech innovation for diverse organizations such as UNESCO, KPMG, GE, and HP and has given more than 200 presentations in 54 countries and delivered keynotes alongside Jimmy Wales and Steve Wozniak and a TEDx talk on the future of the internet. She sits on several boards such as Columbia University Earth Institute and World Women Global Council in New York. She is Indian, American, and Irish and currently lives in Amsterdam.

Book Abstract: New-media pundits obsess over online privacy and security, cyberbullying, and revenge porn, but do these things really matter in most of the world? The Next Billion Users reveals that many assumptions about internet use in developing countries are wrong. After immersing herself in factory towns, slums, townships, and favelas, Payal Arora assesses real patterns of internet usage in India, China, South Africa, Brazil, and the Middle East. She finds Himalayan teens growing closer by sharing a single computer with common passwords and profiles. In China’s gaming factories, the line between work and leisure disappears. In Riyadh, a group of young women organizes a YouTube fashion show. Why do citizens of states with strict surveillance policies appear to care so little about their digital privacy? Why do Brazilians eschew geotagging on social media? What drives young Indians to friend “foreign” strangers on Facebook and give “missed calls” to people? The Next Billion Users answers these questions and many more. Through extensive fieldwork, Arora demonstrates that the global poor are far from virtuous utilitarians who mainly go online to study, find jobs, and obtain health information. She reveals habits of use bound to intrigue everyone from casual internet users to developers of global digital platforms to organizations seeking to reach the next billion internet users.